Tale as Old as Time. More like Tale as Old as 1991? At least this movie is based off the 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast. We all knew with live action versions like Maleficient and Cinderella around, Disney wasn’t going to let its classic Beauty and the Beast go by without getting a live action remake. I don’t think I need to provide much of a synopsis, so I’m just going to jump right into the review.
What I liked:
Luke Evans. Hands down he was the best thing about this movie. I never really thought about who could embody these characters in live action, and I never thought it’d be him since I’ve seen him in several other things, but I thought he nailed it and became Gaston. He is also a fabulous singer. He had the best voice among the cast, strong and forceful. I enjoyed his scenes the most and the Gaston bar sequence was really good. I wasn’t a fan of the changes to the lyrics, but that wasn’t on Evans.
Dan Stevens was pretty good as the Beast. I thought he had a good voice for the character. There were also a couple of additional lines for him that I liked. The script fleshes out the Beast a little bit more and we get a sense of how much he enjoys reading as well.
I’m also a sucker for really nice ending credit sequences, and they didn’t disappoint here. It was very well done.
What I didn’t like:
The pacing in the first half felt way too fast. This movie is longer than its animated counterpart and yet I felt like they were flying through key scenes. Eventually it gets a little better and I realized it felt rushed because of the added content, like backstory for plot lines we never really needed or asked for….
I also saw it in RealD 3D and that made the scenery too dark. I kept lifting my glasses to try to get a better sense of the colors. I would NOT recommend watching it in 3D because there were not enough opportunities incorporating 3D to make it worth the extra cost. If anything it takes away from what I assume was supposed to be super beautiful sets. I mean, the sets were still nice, but more color would have given it the wow factor.
The songs in general were not on the level of their originals. “Be My Guest” was okay if not a tad underwhelming. I felt the same about “Beauty and the Beast,” too. I didn’t necessarily like or hate Emma Watson as Belle, but they should have done us all a favor and used a double to handle the singing. They certainly had no problem employing Tony Award winning Audra McDonald, and with people like her around, it makes the other mediocre efforts seem even worse.
I also have to say I do think the relationship with Belle and the Beast feels a little weirder in live action than it does as a cartoon. I think it may add more of a squick factor for some viewers. Yes, it’s just a story, but I just found myself thinking about it more than I did with the cartoon.
The iconic yellow dress was definitely a let down for me. Would it have been so hard to make it like the original? At the very least they could have made it better. And she wore it much longer in this film than in the cartoon, as if they were really trying to make the dress happen. But it didn’t happen. This particular post sums up how I feel about the dress :-/
The film has faced a lot of criticism, and not all of it is unwarranted, but my theatre gave it a nice cheer at the end so I do think it’s a crowd pleaser. It will also be a mega money maker. However, for me there is something I’ve noticed with these live action adaptations; they tend to be okay to good-ish, but not amazing. And it’s an interesting outcome when you think about how good Disney’s other movies are. They have animated films (like Zootopia), Marvel anything, Star Wars, Pixar most things… The difference in writing quality makes me think they want to make those other films a priority because they know people will flock to these live-action remakes regardless of the final product.
Next up is Aladdin. I want it to be amazing of course, but the trend is that we can only really hope for passable.